Well, I’ve already reviewed the movies I saw in theaters this weekend, X-Men: First Class is here and Beginners is here, so I’ll avoid discussing them much further here at the Watercooler. I did rewatch the first X-Men on Netflix streaming however. I think it has held up surprisingly well and it really highlights what’s missing with the mostly dull First Class: humor. The Wolverine character adds a great energy, a lot of natural humor and a certain irreverence toward the very idea of a team of people with special mutant powers and he is sorely missed in First Class.

On blu-ray I watched Spartacus again for the first time in several years. This isn’t really a Stanley Kubrick movie in my estimation, but it remains one of the better examples of the sword and sandal genre. Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay is strong and the character is tailor made for earnest Kirk Douglas. The best parts though happen in Rome between the fantastic English actors Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov. Overall, Spartacus strikes a really nice balance between epic action and more human concerns. Oh, and I love Alex North’s score.

Also on blu-ray I rewatched Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. I had one tiny beef with the presentation which I talk about here, but all in all the beautiful transfer and the high-definition make up for any small shortcomings. The only thing better than this would be a fresh print on the big screen. Lyndon is one of my very favorite Kubrick films along with Lolita and Dr. Strangelove and it just gets better every time I see it.

Let’s close with a quick note about box office. Both Tree of Life (review) and Midnight in Paris (review) held up really well in their modest expansions. Woody Allen’s film averaged nearly $20K per screen in 147 locations while the Malick averaged over $31K per screen in 20 locations. Meanwhile, Bridesmaids (the best wide release movie of the summer so far, review) crossed the $100 million threshold over the weekend which is terrific. I’m happy to see audiences are turning out for all three films. The dismal The Hangover Part II (review) meanwhile dropped a precipitous 62% from its opening weekend. It’s still made a crapload of money so Warner Bros. isn’t sweating it.

That’s all from my end. Now it’s your turn. See anything good in the last week?

17 Responses to “6/5/11”

  1. Craig:

    I was fortunate enough to see BARRY LYNDON on a 70 foot screen (the Lowes Jersey City) two weeks aback and I related teh experience here on the diary. Thrilled to hear your glowing reaction too of that Kubrick blu-ray set, which I’ve been enjoying all week.

    This week (shortened to six days because of last week’s Tuesday overlap) allowed for the viewing of one interactive stage play, one war years British film classic, and three new openings, including two rare multiplex appearances with the family.

    The stage play H4 utilyzes television segments aired on the background movie screen to tell the story of the Bard’s Henry the Fourth parts I & II and it’s connection and relevency to today’s governments. It’s a noble attempt, but it loses steam and gets lost in all kinds of dramatic convolution and careless integration. In Theatre Row’s Clerman Theatre which seats 60, there were about 17 people in the audience on a primetime Saturday evening spot. That pretty much tells where this one is going as per word of mouth, and the reviews have been practically non-existent. I wish this company well, and lament the missed chance here with some obviously great material. Some of the performances were fairly good, and the duel scene was well choreographed.

    On movie screens I saw the following, some with Lucille and the kids:

    Film Socialism * (Friday night) IFC Film Center

    Bridesmaids **** (Sunday afternoon) Edgewater Multiplex

    X Men: First Class ** (Friday sfternoon) Edgewater Multiplex

    Went the Day Well? **** 1/2 (Thursday night) Film Forum

    I have posted a full review of the incoherent FILM SOCIALISM and Godard’s cinema above the diary so I’ll leave it at that. The lastest X MEN installemnt is pretty much the same old nonsence, though it was nice having James McAvoy along for the ride. The 1940’s British satire WENT THE DAY WELL? was a true glory in its remastered state at the Film Forum, and the upcoming blu-ray of this often hilarious Grahame Green adaptation is an essential for movie fans. I was delighted with BRIDESMAIDS, though I was alerted of the solidity of this wedding comedy by my friends Pat Perry and Craig Kennedy, both who penned terrific reviews about a week ago. Loved the Brazilian bar poisoning and the ‘get the attention of the cop’ sequences, but there’s so much more, and the acting is wonderful.

  2. Loved Midnight In Paris. It was really fun and had some great surprises!

    I just read your review again, CK and it’s spot on.

  3. I caught up with Farewell on DVD, which I enjoyed. Fred Ward is utterly distracting as Ronald Reagan, but luckily he’s rarely in the film. I liked Emir Kusturica quite a bit in it and the story was interesting for its take on mid-80s Communist Russia. I am a sucker for espionage thrillers.

    Otherwise I already complained about X-men First Class elsewhere so I’ll spare everyone that discussion.

  4. Sam, I continue to be jealous of your Barry Lyndon theatrical experience. I’ve seen it on the big screen before, but the print was not outstanding and the screen was not 70 feet. This blu-ray is the best looking I’ve ever seen it and it’s a joy to have.

    Your pan of Film Socialisme oddly makes me more interested in seeing it than I was. I do love a train wreck, and a Godardian wreck sounds too good to pass up.

    Glad you caught up with Bridesmaids too. It’s the only big summer movie so far I’d really call “good.”

    Would I steer you wrong G9? Ok, don’t answer that, because I would. But not in the case of Midnight in Paris. Yeah, it’s not going to be everyone’s cuppa, but I was thoroughly charmed by it. Glad you were too.

    Joel, Farewell was not at all what I expected it to be going in, but it was really pretty terrific. I’m happy you were able to catch up to it on DVD. Yeah, Fred Ward was just a bad idea. I love the guy, but it just seemed like a bad SNL performance to me and it took you out of the rest of the movie which was otherwise sober and serious minded.

  5. Craig: Let me make one thing clear. The BARRY LYNDON print you and I own on blu-ray is way better than the one seen on that mega-screen in Jersey City. That viewing was memorable for the size, but the print was only OK. I think I conveyed the wrong impression. The blu-ray is really the definitive way to go here.

    I must say in view of all the controversy I really cannot wait for your reaction to FILM SOCIALISM. As you know it’s a train wreck, perhaps even worse than the one I witnessed two weeks ago in Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL. Ha!

    I must say I was delightfully surprised with BRIDESMAIDS, and your strong review weeks ago stayed with me as I resolved to play catch up this past week.

  6. I wonder if the Barry Lyndon print you saw is the same one I saw a couple years ago here in Portland, Sam? It was in fairly good shape, but it looked to be about ten years old or more and I figured it was struck after Kubrick’s death, when the DVD box set was released. It looked good, but it was somewhat worn.

    Last night I caught Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins on Amazon VOD. It was excellent. Takashi Miike makes a samurai film that is both true to the genre (and entertainingly so) but also questions the samurai code and injects some pointed commentary on the class system of feudal Japan. And in typical Takashi Miike-fashion, there is a disturbing moment in this film I will never forget, but one that is critically important to the themes he’s examining. Great stuff.

  7. There’s no substitute for the big screen. Even the tattered print I saw 20 years ago at The Neptune in Seattle was worth it.

    Joel, I never finished my review of it, but 13 Assassins is one of my favs so far this year. Like you say, it has a conscience and a “message” of sorts, but it doesn’t skimp on the samurai thrills. The hellish finale was fantastic.

  8. I’m torn– I could wait to see 13 Assassins at the New York Asian Film Festival in its director’s cut… Or I could see the current theatrical version at a small place in my home town…

  9. How long would you have to wait?

    I’d probably wait, but knowing now that I really liked it, I’d probably see it both times.

  10. Joel, that could well be the same print. The colors were rather muted, no match for the vivid richness of the blu-ray print.

  11. If it wasn’t the same print, then it was the same print run. The one I saw was also faded. I wondered if it was intentional, but if it doesn’t match the Blu-ray then that explains it.

  12. Well, I saw and enjoyed X Men: First Class rather a lot, not that I’d argue it’s a great film or anything. But it was just the sort of light and big-budget popcorn flick I was in the mood to see. Since March, I’ve only seen two films in the theaters, and of those one was a documentary and the other was the day my cat died. So I was in the mood to be mindlessly entertained and mindlessly entertained I was. I don’t remember a ton about the film now, except every hot image of Fassbender is happily seared onto my memory for all time. That in itself was birthday present enough for me.
    ;-)

  13. Never underestimate the power of Fassbender.

  14. I still didn’t care for his acting in English. Hearing Magneto break into an Irish accent was one of the few things that took me out of the movie, but only about a centimeter or two.

  15. Magneto’s accent, especially considering he was Polish which McKellan didn’t bother recreating either, seems like a very weird bone of contention for someone who actually liked the movie, Bob. Usually that kind of nitpicking is what I do when the movie isn’t working for me on other levels. As unremarkable as I thought the movie was, Fassbender’s elocution didn’t bother me for a minute.

  16. Who does a Polish accent anymore? Other than Streep? She would have been a fine Magneto, but I thought Fassbender’s natural magnetism on screen was just the thing the part needed.

  17. Craig, it was amusing for me how it popped up during one scene of the film, towards the end, especially after he displayed a rather nice command of several other languages earlier on. And yeah, it didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment with the film. I liked “First Class”, but I can honestly say that Fassbender didn’t have much to do with that.

Leave a Reply


Tiny Subscribe to Comments





  • LiC on Twitter

  • Archives

All material copyright 2007-2012 by Craig Kennedy unless otherwise stated